Berkeley's top resident writer comes close to a great novel here. Primarily the story of two families: the men run Brokeland records; the women form a top-shelf team of midwives. Brokeland Records is that most classic of institutions...the used record store. In this case, they specialize in jazz. The story jumps from Oakland past to Oakland present and brings in such diverse topics as the Panthers, blaxploitation films, Quentin Tarantino, comic books, the threat to local businessess from new megastores, leisure suits, Oakland politics, on and on. There are references to dozens of actual landmarks and businesses from Berkeley Bowl to the Merritt Bakery.


Chabon's already got his Pulitzer prize, his Nebula Award, his Hugo award, etc for works like Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay, The Yiddish Policeman's Union. This work is a little too pat for that type of praise, but I will say that he successfully captures a place in several times.

Definitely worth the trip to the far end of Telegraph Avenue.